Mothers of Invention on Vinyl – Are You Experienced?

When I came across these posts on YouTube, I could not help but share them here at KUR. Not because of the individual tracks themselves (which have been digitalized) – “Aybe Sea” (above) which closes side one of Burnt Weenie Sandwich and Uncle Meat‘s “Nine Types of Industrial Pollution” (below) – but because as these videos illustrate so well, a way of experiencing music which newer technologies have so hurriedly bypassed. I’m speaking of the whole tactile experience of listening to the vinyl record, itself: from how you held it in your hands, set the vinyl on the turntable, adjusted the amplifier and equalizer, then sitting before your stereo system, examined the album cover in your hands while the music filled the room.

Indeed, new technological advancements have brought music to the masses, have quite literally brought the recording industry to its knees, removed the middleman from between the artist and his fan – still, a part of me misses those times I recall raiding the local record store, hauling home my vinyl catch of the day, and losing myself in the warmth and depth that was always the vinyl experience.

Thanks to “gamesDAMNED” for posting these videos on YouTube. He describes the system in these videos as:

The Mothers of Invention – Aybe Sea



Turntable: Sony PX-X5 Direct Drive

Phono Cart: Grado Red

Preamp: Rega Fono Mini

Stereo: Marantz 2235b 


Recorded at 24/96 (24-bit, 96kHz) on Audacity.

The Mothers of Invention – Nine Types of Industrial Pollution



Turntable: Sony PS-X5
Phono Cart: 
Ortofon 2M Blue

Preamp: Musical Fidelity V-LPS w/ Radio Shack PSU
Stereo: 
Harmon Kardon 330c stereo receiver


Recorded at 24/96 (24-bit, 96kHz) on Audacity

Having access to Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention now on vinyl, cassette, reel-to-reel, compact disc, etc – I cannot image any fan limiting themselves to just one format. The nuances are there to be heard and enjoyed by any discerning fan.

31 Responses to “Mothers of Invention on Vinyl – Are You Experienced?”

  1. Balint says:

    The funny thing is that Burnt Weeny Sandwich was released EXACTLY 40 YEARS AGO TODAY.

    :-D

  2. Balint says:

    Uhh, sorry, 41… :-) I’ve forgot it’s 2011.

  3. Dark Clothes says:

    About anniversaries: One of these days, probably this week, I will be exactly twice the age I was when I saw Frank on the Broadway the Hard Way Tour. Sort of funny to think about that. (For me anyway…)

    I don’t really need YouTube to have a good vinyl experience – I just put a record on my turntable and play it. I don’t mind if it’s Burnt Weeny Sandwich, and preferably the original Blue Bizarre label edition, without the strange stretch in the master tape or whatever in the opening of Little House I Used To Live In… It’s not important, but strangely satisfying to have a version where even that split second is flawless, possibly apart from a slightly out of tune key on Underwood’s piano.

  4. Jake St. Vitus says:

    A quote from Jake St. Vitus:

    ithout the strange stretch in the master tape or whatever in the opening of Little House I Used To Live In…

    Only owning the blue Bizarre LP I am not aware of the strange stretch. Did that anomaly make it to the CD or just the orange label Reprise version?

    And on another note, for the first maybe 7-10 years of Zappa collecting I only bought LPs (CDs weren’t really available at the very beginning). When I hear Inca Roads on CD I still hear the skip (in my mind) in the final vocal part where I got so very used to it by listening to the LP for so many years.

    (Same thing happens to me with the Beatles’ Oh Darling and some Dylan tunes.)

  5. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Jake St. Vitus:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    ithout the strange stretch in the master tape or whatever in the opening of Little House I Used To Live In…

    Only owning the blue Bizarre LP I am not aware of the strange stretch. Did that anomaly make it to the CD or just the orange label Reprise version?

    And on another note, for the first maybe 7-10 years of Zappa collecting I only bought LPs (CDs weren’t really available at the very beginning). When I hear Inca Roads on CD I still hear the skip (in my mind) in the final vocal part where I got so very used to it by listening to the LP for so many years.

    (Same thing happens to me with the Beatles’ Oh Darling and some Dylan tunes.)

    The LPs are always the better versions, especially with these early albums. I’ve really never gotten used to the Ryko versions. To me, the original vinyl will always be vastly superior to the CD versions. Particularly with ‘Uncle Meat’, ‘Burnt Weeny Sandwich’, and ‘Roxy & Elsewhere’. One cannot listen to the Ryko CD version of “Cheepnis” and honestly say it’s comparable with the 1974 vinyl DiscReet version.

  6. Thinman says:

    Though I’m not the one to glorify vinyl audio, I agree with (qoute urbangraffito) “… the whole tactile experience of listening to the vinyl record, itself: from how you held it in your hands, set the vinyl on the turntable, adjusted the amplifier and equalizer, then sitting before your stereo system, examined the album cover in your hands while the music filled the room.”

    Listening to music should be an active process. One should always slow down and listen carefully and let the music be the most important thing of that moment. This can also be done with CDs or whatever.

    Th.

  7. Dark Clothes says:

    A quote from Jake St. Vitus:

    A quote from Dark Clothes:

    ithout the strange stretch in the master tape or whatever in the opening of Little House I Used To Live In…

    Only owning the blue Bizarre LP I am not aware of the strange stretch. Did that anomaly make it to the CD or just the orange label Reprise version?

    Yeah, unfortunately. I bought the CD just recently and discovered to my surprise that the good old “stretched tape or whatever” was there as well. So it must have been something strange happened to the master tape between the blue Bizarre label pressing and the orange Reprise repressing – which is still the source for the CD mix.

  8. Jeroen says:

    The stretch is also on the lp of the old master’s box set. I remember that I transferred them to cassette to minimize the times I had to play the albums, and I thought I had somehow touched the turntable when I sneaked back after pushing REC. I listened to the result, was angry with mytself, did it again and concluded it was not my fault.

    So that is the only album I played three times in those three boxes.

  9. Nowski says:

    A quote from Dark Clothes:

    … It’s not important, but strangely satisfying to have a version where even that split second is flawless, …

    What split second of the opening of Little House I Used To Live In are we actually talking about here? I’ve never noticed, and I can’t hear it even if I listen very carefully.

  10. Dark Clothes says:

    A quote from Nowski:

    A quote from Dark Clothes:

    … It’s not important, but strangely satisfying to have a version where even that split second is flawless, …

    What split second of the opening of Little House I Used To Live In are we actually talking about here? I’ve never noticed, and I can’t hear it even if I listen very carefully.

    That’s understandable if you have the blue Bizarre label edition – it’s very apparent on all other versions that I know of.

  11. Nowski says:

    A quote from Dark Clothes:

    That’s understandable if you have the blue Bizarre label edition – it’s very apparent on all other versions that I know of.

    Now I got it. I listened to another version on the net, and it’s in the very first second.

  12. Numpty says:

    A quote from Nowski:

    A quote from Dark Clothes:

    … It’s not important, but strangely satisfying to have a version where even that split second is flawless, …

    What split second of the opening of Little House I Used To Live In are we actually talking about here? I’ve never noticed, and I can’t hear it even if I listen very carefully.

    It is the third note of the opening piano sequence. I’ve always winced when i’ve heard it. I bought an original Burnt Weeny Sandwich LP from a friend at work in 1977 for the grand sum of £1 lol. He sais it was too weird. I loved it instantly.

  13. Nowski says:

    Thanks. I’ll stick to my flawless vinyl-version then.

  14. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Thinman:

    Though I’m not the one to glorify vinyl audio, I agree with (qoute urbangraffito) “… the whole tactile experience of listening to the vinyl record, itself: from how you held it in your hands, set the vinyl on the turntable, adjusted the amplifier and equalizer, then sitting before your stereo system, examined the album cover in your hands while the music filled the room.”

    Listening to music should be an active process. One should always slow down and listen carefully and let the music be the most important thing of that moment. This can also be done with CDs or whatever.

    Th.

    Certainly in this post-vinyl era, particularly for convenience and expediency, the mp3 and other such formats have become the dominant musical paradigm of our time. Yet, the artist, or their heirs, concerned so much with notions of legacy, would have found a way to reproduce that original vinyl audio quality sound via the new technologies. It seems to me, at least, that in their hurry (Zappa included) to put a product out on the market, quality corners were cut. Even if the original master tapes had “warbles”, those were historically part of the original, and should have been left “as is”. Just as the original 1974 vinyl DiscReet version of “Cheepnis” will always be the version I remember and enjoy, not the Ryko version which marred an otherwise marvelous song. Of course, we all know who is responsible for this. I mean, does Picasso touch up paintings once they are in the Louvre?

  15. jonnybutter2 says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    Yet, the artist, or their heirs, concerned so much with notions of legacy, would have found a way to reproduce that original vinyl audio quality sound via the new technologies.

    I think the problem is that these things were mastered (poorly!) for the crappy compact disc format – 44.1 megahertz/16 bit has badness baked in to the very standard; then they were mastered like crap, partly due to carelessness, but also because of the state of the art.

    It was going to sound shitty no matter what in those days, I’m afraid. HD digital audio sounds fabulous to my ear, so IMHO it’s perfectly possible to have great sounding digital audio.

    FWIW, several months ago, I mentioned that I never cared about the song ‘Nine Types…’. Now that I’ve heard it a couple times – then and just now – I’ve decided I like it! Thanks guys…

  16. Thinman says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    I think the problem is that these things were mastered (poorly!) for the crappy compact disc format – 44.1 megahertz/16 bit has badness baked in to the very standard …

    Theoretically parroting bullshit. Not the format is the problem. The mastering/remix decisions are the problem (dynamic compression, added reverb, etc.) The same (re)masters would sound equally bad in HD (and surely even worse on a vinyl record. It is and was possible even in the earlier days of digital audio to make high-quality analog-to-digital transfers if just that would have been the intention. It was and still is a question of the quality of the converters. Just because one’s cheesy computer audio interface says 96kHz/24Bit or whatever doesn’t mean the device automatically makes good transfers – because it probably has bad converters for its consumer price.

    The physical possibilities of a vinyl record are far worse than 44.1kHz/16-Bit digital audio. The possible dynamic range on a vinyl record is far smaller than on a CD. The pity is that no one makes use of the greater possible dynamic range of CD-audio. They only make use of the top few dBs because everything has to be loud, louder, loudest.

    I’ll stop now because I have been angry about this shit too often, here and on other forums.

    Th.

  17. Dark Clothes says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    FWIW, several months ago, I mentioned that I never cared about the song ‘Nine Types…’. Now that I’ve heard it a couple times – then and just now – I’ve decided I like it! Thanks guys…

    It’s good to see people changing their mind, and besides – what’s not to like? :-)

    I think one of the great things about vinyl is in fact that it’s not perfect – the medium has a life cycle, which is missing from digital media (which have their own special virtues, for sure). In that way, vinyl has something in common with live performance – it’s a passing, temporary thing.

  18. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Dark Clothes:

    I think one of the great things about vinyl is in fact that it’s not perfect – the medium has a life cycle, which is missing from digital media (which have their own special virtues, for sure). In that way, vinyl has something in common with live performance – it’s a passing, temporary thing.

    Quite true. Back in the vinyl era, I lost count how many times I actually purchased some of my favourite Zappa/Mother’s albums (often several times over the span of a few years) because I played them so heavily – until I finally invested in a tape cassette addition to my stereo system as well as a reel-to-reel recorder. That was also the time that personal cassette copies of early Mother’s albums were traded like virtual Gold among Zappa/Mothers freaks because they’d all gone out of print.

    When today’s fans tell me they’ve collected the entire Zappa catalogue, I raise my eyebrow and think, “Hmmmmm”….

  19. Numpty says:

    I used to buy my vinyl from Record Collector magazine and Record Fairs, but mostly in trades with German and Dutch people. I once managed to get 6 copies of Specialized Digital Audio Gratification and traded them for the ‘Rat Trap’ Weasels LP and The Old Masters Box 1. I used to have parcels of LPs arriving every week. Great days :-)

  20. Dark Clothes says:

    I had an older friend back in the Eighties who had all the Zappa records from Freak Out! to Sheik Yerbouti (he stopped buying Zappa after SY) + a couple of thousand other LPs – prog, RIO, postpunk, impro, jazz and so on. I used to borrow records from him and taped many of them. Stupidly, I decided not to tape the MoI Verve albums, because I wanted to track down the LPs myself. Even now, when I have all the albums, I regret not having taped them back then. Strange.

  21. Numpty says:

    I started collecting Zappa in 1979 so i used to have a ‘playing’ copy of the early LPs and the rest would never be played. It gets ridiculous buying those multiple copies though. i.e. there is really no need for 6 Uncle Meat, 5 Money albums etc but i couldn’t resist if the price was right lol. It really was a drug then. I loved those rare European Mothers compilations too, even if Zappa didn’t, just for the different artwork.

  22. Dark Clothes says:

    On a very different note: If you look at the video list following Nine Types, there are some very cool entries, among them the Mothers of Invention playing King Kong in a BBC show. Nice one!

  23. jonnybutter2 says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    Theoretically parroting bullshit.

    Are you upset?

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    The same (re)masters would sound equally bad in HD (and surely even worse on a vinyl record.

    Of course they would (actually, they probably would sound worse), which is why I said it was a combination of the two things.

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    The possible dynamic range on a vinyl record is far smaller than on a CD.

    *This* is theoretical. It’s not necessarily true perceptually, at least on good vinyl. Believe me, I am not a vinyl fetishist at all – I couldn’t care less what the format is so long as it sounds good. And you are of course completely right about the quality of the converters used, over-use of compression, etc. But I think it’s a pity we have been stuck for a while with the lower sampling rate of conventional CDs. Yes, you can make a 44.1/16 CD sound great (e.g. Civ. Phase 3), but rather than screwing around with dithering and the rest, it will be nice when we have both a common standard HD format, and people who know how to use it. I want to hear that high end, and reliably – i.e. I want things like that to be perhaps a little less contingent.

    What I find interesting about those (horrible) remasters is that you can hear details you don’t really want to hear – for example, you can sometimes hear the edits as edits. I don’t know if that’s a function of the fact that they were re-done (like on ‘Money’) or what, but you can hear them too well. You can also hear punch-ins, for example, on ‘Wind Up Workin’ in a Gas Station’, after the 4th bar of the guitar solo, you can clearly hear that Zappa punched in to finish the solo off. I never heard that on the vinyl release.

    Maybe there are problems inherent in transferring/remastering *some* material – no matter how well the transfer is done – which was designed for one format, onto another.

  24. jonnybutter2 says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    Not the format is the problem.

    Actually, Thin is generally right here, so I should also not ‘get upset’. Absolutely the problem with most early commercial CDs – not just Zappa’s – is the remaster and transfer, not the final format. I think some very popular albums were not even remastered in any real sense – just transferred from video tape with a digital audio track; record companies didn’t give a shit how it sounded, just get it out there and charge *extra* because it’s DIGITAL (fucking bastards). At least Zappa truly remastered, even though it was often very bad.

  25. Thinman says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    Are you upset?

    Sometimes ;-)

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    What I find interesting about those (horrible) remasters is that you can hear details you don’t really want to hear …

    Very interesting point. That is a side-effect of dynamic compression on a stereo master. This can destroy a well balanced mix completely because everything comes upfront that shouldn’t.
    A reason why I mostly like older CD versions (non-Zappa) from the 80s better than later remastered editions. They didn’t do the loudness maximize shit back then. A good example is Dark Side Of The Moon.
    Another interesting point when it comes to older transfer qualities: the original Freak Out on MOFO is Zappa’s original un-tweezed transfer from 1987.

    Th.

  26. blob says:

    Have I now been formally banned?

    (boring Bob)

  27. blob says:

    ps – love the hisss…amf

  28. jonnybutter2 says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    [hearing detail you don't want to hear] is a side-effect of dynamic compression on a stereo master.

    Yeah, that makes sense.

    I am totally with you about the loudness max thing. I hate that. It sounds like absolute shit. To quote ‘I’m The Slime’ it sounds like the audio has been literally ‘stuffed into my mold’.

    A big disappointment for me was the ‘Touch Me There’ CD. That is just hammered to shit. It pumps outrageously, and sounds like an air compressor or bionic sausage. And the stereo image flails around wildly. It’s breathtaking how shitty that CD sounds, particularly on the tracks with massive overdubbage (e.g. ‘Darlene’, the killer track IMO, and ‘Knee Deep’). Zappa called the studio used – Advision – ‘crude’, so maybe there were problems with the original mix, although it sounded reasonable on the vinyl.

    Is it possible that the digital stereo bus compressors got better? I mean, I don’t like modern Loud Max, but at least you don’t usually hear the gross pumping and phasing like on the Shankar album.

  29. Slap says:

    That old remastering problem from the first flush of the CD revolution was an atrocious occurrence in SO many ways. FZ’s stuff was better than most, because if nothing else, it was clear there was someone actively involved in the process. A couple months back, my band was working up the Moodies’ “Story in Your Eyes” for practice purposes (it’s kinda fun to play), and I grabbed my wife’s old (CD) copy of the original release to check on the arrangement, and couldn’t listen to more than 30 seconds. It was HORRIBLE — flat, fuzzy, just beyond belief bad. Then there was the typical record company half-assing going on — when RCA released the first CD version of the Airplane’s “Volunteers”, they ended up doing a fairly significant replacement process. Evidently, some yutz failed to notice that they had grabbed a second-generation copy of the original master, pressed it and released it. The original had been removed by a different RCA person while assembling the Fulton Street compilation. I am certain there are many other examples.

    Neil Young was very late to the digital party by choice — I think until 24-bit became available, he was vehemently against digital. And he is decidedly persnickety about sound.

  30. blob says:

    Hey! Look at me. I’ve got an avatar.

  31. boring Bob says:

    A quote from blob:

    Hey!

    Look at me. I’ve got an avatar.

    Cool.

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